Asked if the frustrating slide currently being endured the Colorado men's basketball team has weighed heavily on himself and his fellow rookies, freshman guard McKinley Wright could only shake his head and chuckle.
"Throughout my four years of high school I only lost 12 games," Wright said.
With losses in five of their past six games and a tough road ahead in the Pac-12 Conference, the Buffs (8-6, 0-2 Pac-12) are well on their way toward surpassing the 12 losses Wright suffered in four years of high school back home in Minnesota.
Adjusting to increased disappointment is nothing out of the ordinary for new players at the Division I level. Typically players of that caliber can carry their high schools to postseason tournaments single-handedly, making extended losing streaks rare. Yet as a season devoted heavily toward developing the team's young talent continues with a challenging homestand this week against No. 4 Arizona State (Thursday, 6:30 p.m.) and No. 14 Arizona (Saturday, noon), CU's freshman class is going through a crash course in learning how to deal with adversity.
"Coach (Tad Boyle) today in the film session talked about how some guys aren't used to the feeling of losing. I'm one of those guys," Wright said. "I've never had to face adversity like this before until now. I'm just trying to do a good job of keeping these guys focused and motivated and confident we can still make a push at it. Our season isn't over yet. There's 16 games left. That's a long time."
Wright's high school team, Champlin Park, went 31-1 last year, suffering its only loss in the state championship game. Freshman Tyler Bey went 21-8 in his final year at Las Vegas High before transferring to Middlebrooks Academy. Dallas Walton's Arvada West team went 17-9 during his senior season. And D'Shawn Schwartz has a chance to lose at least as many games during his first year at CU as he did in his final two years at Sand Creek (15).
"It's definitely different because we expected big things coming in," Schwartz said. "I'm just trying to adjust to it, trying to fix things as they go, try to play harder and just get wins. Usually in high school you'll lose two games max at most and then go get a win. This is the Pac-12. It's the highest level so you've got to change something to start getting wins."
While the struggles on the scoreboard haven't necessarily come as a surprise, Boyle continues to express frustration at the in-game inconsistencies often displayed by his team — which often are as much on the shoulders of the team's veterans as the freshmen.
"Did I expect it? I expected it to some degree, but you don't know until you get into it," Boyle said. "I expect our freshmen to be inconsistent. I don't expect our junior and our seniors to be inconsistent. I expect more from the guys that have been around and been through the wars. It's all about improvement and getting better, and that's what I'm focused on every day.
"Do the losses frustrate you? Hell yeah they do. There's no getting around that. But I am taking a big picture view. I'm understanding what we have. Evan Battey is going to be a heck of a player sitting out. These freshmen are coming along. I see the progress that Tyler is making. I see the progress Laz (Nikolic) is making. I see the progress D'Shawn is making, Dallas. All those freshmen are making great progress."